LCpl. Norman J. Clifford


Norman James Clifford was born in Islington, England, 25 June 1884, the son of Edwin & Clara (nee Fuller). Before the war he worked in Gananoque as a shipping clerk for the Parmenter and Bulloch. He enlisted 24 November 1914 at age 30 and served in the infantry, 21st Battalion (Eastern Ontario Regiment). Private Clifford arrived in France in September 1915 and was sent to join other Canadians fighting near Ypres, Belgium.

The Canadians were given the task of driving the Germans from an area just to the south of Ypres. The St Eloi craters were created when the British and Germans blew 31 massive mines in an area half the size of the town of Gananoque. It was so heavily mined and shelled that it was difficult for attackers or defenders to identify each other's lines. Infantry units fought major battles over individual craters, the largest of which was 15 metres deep and 55 metres across. Incessant rain completely filled some of the smaller ones causing many of the severely wounded who fell in them to drown.

The 21st Battalion war diary describes events the day Private Clifford was killed. Just before midnight on 8 April, about 50 men in his unit attacked German defensive positions on the other side of a large crater but were detected and fired on by artillery and machine guns. They did not get into the German lines and were forced to withdraw after confused fighting in the mud and darkness. That night the raid and a working party repairing defences resulted in 36 men being killed or wounded.

The bodies of soldiers from both sides lay unburied for months. Private Donald Fraser, 31st Battalion (Alberta Regiment) was involved in the fighting at St Eloi that claimed the life of Private Lloyd from his unit and of Private Clifford in the next unit. He wrote in his diary about the battleground: "When day broke, the sight that met our gaze was so horrible and ghastly that they beggar description. Heads, arms and legs were protruding from the mud at every yard and dear knows how many bodies the earth had swallowed. Thirty corpses at least were showing in the crater."

Private Clifford's body was never recovered despite repeated efforts after the end of the war. For over four years, teams from the War Graves Commission scoured the battlefields of Europe searching for bodies. They are still being found. The remains of a Canadian who was killed in 1916 was found in early 2000. Private Cliffords name is inscribed on the MENIN GATE MEMORIAL in Ypres with the names of 6,940 Canadian soldiers who were posted as missing and presumed dead in Belgium. He also is commemorated on Page 68 of the First World War Book of Remembrance. The Germans also lost heavily in the Ypres Salient. One of their cemeteries contains over 44,000 graves.

In remembrance of a fellow member: From 144 Independent Order of Oddfellows, Gananoque. His sacrifice is also commemorated by the employees of Parmenter & Bulloch (now Textron Inc.).

Taken from the "Gananoque Remembers (A tribute to the men who gave their lives for our freedom)" by Geraldine Chase and Bill Beswetherick

Text reproduced with permission


Below is research completed by Al Lloyd primarily from the service file of Private Clifford.



Jun 25, 1884

Born in London, England to Edwin and Clara (nee Fuller) Clifford.

He has also been known as Norman John Clifford and Norman James Clifford, however the middle name Joseph is the name his family uses, as well as the CWGC.

After immigrating to Canada, Norman found employment in Gananoque, Ontario as a Shipping Clerk with Parmenter and Bullock, a metal manufacturing company specializing in the manufacture of rivets and riveting machinery.  The company is now part of Textron Canada Ltd.


Nov 24, 1914

Attested into the 21st Battalion in Kingston, Ontario

Ø      Number 59169 (temporary number 1091)

Ø      Next of kin given as Edwin Clifford, father, Queen’s Head St., Hazelton, London, England

Ø      Previous occupation given as Shipping Clerk

Ø      No previous military experience given

Ø      Religion given as Presbyterian

Ø      Assigned to “A” Company


May 6, 1915

Embarked the RMS Metagama in Montreal, Quebec


May 15, 1915

Disembarked in Devonport, England and the battalion proceeded to the West Sandling Camp, near Hythe, Kent.


Sep 14, 1915

Embarked the St. Seiriol in Folkestone


Sep 15, 1915

Disembarked in Boulogne, France and the battalion proceeded to St. Omer


Apr 8, 1916

While in the Transport Section behind the lines near St. Eloi, Belgium, Private Clifford was killed by the explosion of an artillery shell.  He was buried by his comrades near where he fell and his grave location was recorded.

When the war ended, the Graves Registration Commission began relocating the battlefield burials into organized cemeteries, but Norman’s body could not be located, most likely because of continuous shelling for the next 2½ years.  As a result, he is commemorated on the Menin Gate as having died in Belgium with no known grave. 


Following the war the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and Memorial Cross were sent to his mother, Mrs. CF Clifford, 14 Dewsbury Road, Dollis Hill, London, England.

The Plaque (Dead Man’s Penny) and Scroll were sent to his father, Edwin Clifford, at the same address.



The Gananoque Ontario Great War Memorial


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